Seymour trainer Stephen Brown has Heavenly Emperor in superb nick, saddling the gelding up for a third metro win from his past six starts at Caulfield last Saturday.
The four-year-old Echoes of Heaven gelding took out the $60,000 Le Pine Funerals Handicap over 1600 metres, defeating Thought of That ($10) by a half-head with the $4 favourite Kaplumpich a further 1¼ lengths away third.
Heavenly Emperor ($8.50) was ridden by regular hoop Mitchell Aitken, who recently completed his apprenticeship.
Brown said he was surprised at Aitken’s tactics sitting outside the leader.
“I wasn’t very happy but it was the right move in the end as you had to be forward.
“In the first race they didn’t change from when they sorted themselves out to the end of the race and the same thing just about happened in this race.
“I told the owners to back him each way but I wasn’t that confident because he got clipped the other day and he didn’t really come up how I like him, but he’s really fit and he’s been working well.”
Brown said he’d like to give the gelding another run over 1600-1700 metres then step him up to 2000 metres.
“We took the crossover noseband off him as I don’t think he was a fan of it, and that may have made a bit of a difference too,” he said.
Brown purchased the gelding for stable clients after his fifth race start in New Zealand, where he was handled by Tony Pike.
Heavenly Emperor now has five wins, five minor placings and $256,652 from 16 starts.
No cup, but jumps joy
It was with mixed emotions that Kyneton trainer Neil Dyer welcomed Stanley ($4.80) back to the winner’s stall after the gelding’s first hurdle win at Casterton last Saturday.
Dyer purchased the then five-year-old Stratum gelding from Queensland trainer Michael Costa for $60,000 for the family of the late Roger Booth and stable clients in a bid to win last year’s Darwin Cup.
“He had a few runs in the lead-up to the Cup but didn’t like the dirt and we brought him home,” Dyer said.
“He lost all interest in racing back down here so we put him over a few jumps with the help of Eric Musgrove for a couple of weeks.
“He just loves it and he’s a different horse. He’s attacking the line better.”
Last Saturday the gelding was having his third jumps start after being placed in his previous two.
Rated beautifully in the lead by three-kilo claimer Dylan McDonagh, the gelding was a comfortable winner of the $22,000 E-Cycle Solutions Maiden Hurdle (3480m), defeating the Musgrove-trained $2.45 favourite Little Phoenix by 3¼ lengths.
“It was great for Roger’s family as I had to talk them into staying in the horse.
“There was a $10,000 bonus for the maiden win on top of the winner’s purse.
“There’s a restricted hurdle at Warrnambool on Sunday for one-win jumpers so we might back him up,” Dyer said.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions Dyer will miss his annual Darwin carnival trip this year.
• HOOFNOTE: Jockey Roger Booth suffered a cardiac arrest and died after dismounting from one of Dyer’s gallopers at the Darwin carnival in 2017.
Award a winner
Kyneton trainer George Osborne’s Chase Award ($2) was rewarded for his consistency when he took out the $31,500 Global Turf Class 1 Handicap (1400m) on the Sportsbet-Ballarat synthetic track last Sunday.
The four-year-old Shamus Award gelding, ridden by John Allen, defeated $1.85 favourite Rogues Point by a half-head with Lunch At Rulers ($14) a further 5½ lengths away third.
Osborne said the gelding had been a good thing beaten in his three of his past four runs.
“He’s got a lot of upside. He’s a horse you wouldn’t look at twice, but he tries hard,” he said.
Osborne races the gelding in partnership with long-time stable client Alex Babauskis.
Chase Award has now won two races with three minor placings from seven starts.
Kilmore trainer Hanna Powell had Just Jake cherry ripe for a first-up win on the Sportsbet-Ballarat synthetic track on Tuesday.
Having his first start since New Year’s Day, the three-year-old Reward For Effort gelding started from the extreme outside barrier and was pulled back to last in the run.
A patient Declan Bates pulled the gelding out just before the turn, mowing down the field to for an impressive win in the Sporting Globe Ballarat 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m).
The gelding defeated $2.50 favourite April Rules by 1¼ lengths with Pure Purgatory ($5.50) a long neck away third.
Bred by the trainer and raced by her in partnership with her husband, former Fitzroy footballer Ian Powell, the consistent Just Jake had five minor placings and two fourths prior to his win.
Super VOBIS bonuses saw the Powells earn $8412 on top of the $11,338 win purse.